Poultry farmers who were affected by a suspected tainted feed incident are dissatisfied with Karma Feeds’ monetary compensation, and for not being consulted by Karma Feeds’ and the Department of Livestock (DoL) while determining the compensation.
Compensation for impacted poultry farmers range from Nu 30 to Nu 166 for five categories of birds. Nine percent of all deaths are classified as “normal” and do not qualify for compensation.
Hom Nath Thapa of Tsirang Poultry Cooperative, said the biggest problem is that there is no egg production, and there is no way to retrieve the production at the moment.
He said that farmers are not demanding full compensation, and have to take whatever Karma Feeds offers, since they believe it would at least assist them in purchasing feeds.
“Farmers are unhappy because the company consulted with DoL, rather than the farmers for compensation. When a field officer from Karma Feeds came to see us, he mentioned that while they are offering compensation, they have not set a price for it. DoL has fixed the compensation,” he said, adding that the company is simply providing Nu 91 to layer birds, which does not satisfy them.
He said that the farmers want the company to at least offer free feed until the birds lay eggs, which the company has done for 14 days so far.
Regarding the government’s move to allow the import of egg through BLDC, he said that the farmers have no objections to the government importing eggs, but they may distribute the eggs to schools and hospitals, while allowing the farmers to sell their eggs in the open market.
Another Poultry farmer, Pranai Pradhan, in Samtse said, “We are the buyers, and Karma Feeds is the seller, and we should be negotiating the compensation. All of the farmers were not contacted, but they negotiated with the DoL, and we don’t know how they did it. The terms and conditions were too beneficial to Karma Feeds,” he said.
He also said that there is no compensation paid to the farmers if the bird does not die.
“The thing is that if the bird dies, we will definitely lose income, but if the bird does not die, we lose income during that time too because they are not producing any eggs. It has been over a month since we stopped feeding the same feed, but the birds are not giving the same production. It is gradually improving, but it still hasn’t reached half way. We’ve hit a snag,” he said.
He added, “We were losing money, and now the government is allowing BLDC to import eggs. The prices are still high due to a scarcity of eggs, and while production is improving, we figured that selling eggs at the moment would at least cover our losses, but instead of allowing us to do so, the government is importing eggs through their corporation.”
Meanwhile, Karma Feeds’ Director, Chencho Wangyal, said that when the farmers had a problem, they complained to DoL, and they fixed it, so when it comes to compensation, it simply won’t work without consulting DoL.
“DoL is the parent organization, and they have all the details and data from all the dzongkhags, therefore, we did this with the assistance of the DoL,” he said.
He said that the company has sent out teams to 20 dzongkhags, to explain to the farmers.
“DoL has their own method of calculating, which we lack, and if we do it individually again, people would claim that the Karma Feeds is biased. In terms of Karma Feeds, we did enough for farmers in consultation with DoL. It cost roughly Nu 21.40 mn to replace the feeds, and Nu 26.5 mn in monetary compensation. The company suffered a total loss of around Nu 48 mn,” he said.
According to the Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor, the farmers should be grateful for the intervention of DoL, in obtaining that compensation.
Lyonpo said that 100 percent compensation is nowhere possible. They could extract from Karma Feeds, and the farmers should be happy that the company is at least providing assistance.
Meanwhile, the government is assisting the farmers in obtaining replacement day-old chicks.